Say Hello to Joann Keder, Historical Mystery Writer

Joann lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. A lover of small towns, and nature, her cozy mysteries are the reflection of this. Her series, Pepperville Stories, Piney Falls Mysteries, Emory Bing Mysteries and the Charming Mysteries are written in the 1900s, and one series even has a dual timeline! You can find out more about her books from Joann’s website, purchase her books on Amazon and follow her on Facebook.

What made you decide to write a Historical Cozy?
I’ve always had an interest in history. What fascinates me the most is the unknown: What was an ordinary day like in 1900? Did they have the same sense of humor? Did teenagers have attitudes? So often, what’s recorded in history is more about putting their best foot forward, or giving very perfunctory information. I decided to write a story from the viewpoint of a woman, new to this country, who is actually smarter than her husband.

Tell us what time frame your stories are in and what setting or world?
My story is a dual timeline. The first timeline occurs between 1900 and 1922. The second one is present day. They both take place in the same region, the Pacific Northwest, or specifically, the western Oregon coast.

Who is your protagonist? Tell us a bit about them and why they were chosen.
In the early time frame, Fiona Scheddy is a farm girl who is swept off her feet by an American man. She has grandiose ideas about the country she’ll be entering and instead, finds herself alone in New York City. She is fearless and curious about this new life. That’s both what drives her and what damages her.

The modern day protagonist, Lanie Anders, embodies the modern business woman. She is successful in her career and driven, but also very lonely. She has purposely never had a serious relationship because she worries it will get in the way of her career. The two women are both alike in that they are driven and damaged by their ambition.

What sets your mysteries apart from other cozies?
My stories are a product of a life lived in small towns. I spent most of my life in the middle of the country (USA) where we had to drive two hours to the closest Starbucks. People are odd, but there’s no avoiding them because you don’t have options. Your dentist who talks about his collection of goat’s feet is the same guy who coaches your kid’s soccer team. Even if you changed dentists (to the other one in town) it’s likely you would find yourself in the same situation. Those are the stories are fertile ground for my mysteries.

How much research do you do to create your story, and how much do you include in your books?
For Welcome to Piney Falls, I did about six months of research. I was planning to do more, but that’s when everything shut down. I wasn’t even able to access library materials online, so that’s where I left it. For the third book in that series that takes place in 1940, I did about five months of research. I would love to spend more time, but I need to keep the books coming!

Do you feel the crimes committed in historical cozy are very different from a contemporary cozy?
It really depends on the author. A lot of murders (in real life as well as fictional) take place because emotions take the place of rational thought. That’s something that hasn’t changed through time. That being said, cyber crime has really taken off in cozies. I think the motives at issue are still the same, though.

I love the idea of a dual timeline, and can’t wait to start reading Joann’s books. Be sure to add them to your list as well.

Victoria LK Williams

We’ve got a project!

The authors of the USA Today Bestselling mystery anthology Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders have a really fun project in the works!

We’re releasing special edition print copies (both hardback and paperback) of our stories! They’ll be published in a set of ten books, with “flippy-floppy” editions containing two stories in each, for a total of twenty novellas.

Do you remember the books back when we were kids where they had front covers on both sides, and you’d turn them over to read the second story? They’re like that! Perfect for reading on your own or gifting to mystery-loving friends.

How can you get your hands on these? They’ll be special editions, only available only through Kickstarter. You can “back” the project (pledge your purchase) when the Kickstarter launches, and then if we fund the project your books will ship out in time for Christmas! What a great gift idea for the Cozy Mystery Lover!!

I hope you’ll support our exciting project. Please share with someone you think might also enjoy these limited edition books.

VictoriaLKWilliams

Meet Erin Scoggins

I’m thrilled to start the interviews for the twenty-one authors involved with the Midsummer Cozy Mystery Anthology, Mysteries, Midsummer Sun and Murders, with Erin Scoggins. Erin writes the laugh-out-loud series The Wedding Crashers Mysteries. A southerner herself, you can easily get a feel for the small-town-south; including the food, families and killer plots. Be sure to follow Erin on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

‘Til Death Do Us Part, by Erin Scoggins

It’s a beach party twenty years in the making. But when a kidnapper delivers a ransom note instead of a love letter on the morning of their anniversary, can this overworked attorney find her missing husband before the tide goes out the life she had planned?

Now let’s find out a bit about Erin…

Can you give us some insight into what makes your main character tick?
Scoots Gillespie is an attorney who has spent the last few decades climbing the ladder at her North Carolina law firm, and that has often meant putting her job above her husband. When he is kidnapped on the morning of their twentieth anniversary, and she must choose between finding her husband and going after a once-in-a-lifetime promotion, she is forced to clarify what really matters to her. But a lifetime of secrets makes that decision harder than she ever imagined.

What comes first, the plot or characters?
My characters are Southern smart alecks who always like to have a say in their own stories, so they come first. You never want to discount the opinion of a woman who knows a thousand different ways to hide your body.

Everyone takes a tote bag with them when they head out for a day at the beach. What’s in yours?
I used to envision the perfect beach day as only needing chilled mimosas and a good book or two. Then I had kids. So now I pack the entire car with everything one of them might need, whether that’s a basket of curated snacks or a full first aid kit, because I will have a headache and one of my darling littles will undoubtedly need stitches or a visit to the ER by the time the day is over.

If it was just me, though? Earplugs, sweet potato chips, and the highest SPF sunscreen they make, because I get freckles by just walking to the mailbox.Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
Oh, yes. I adore Beverlee Wells-Bartholomew, because she is the vibrant, colorful friend we all need. Whether it’s showing up with tacos when you’re having a bad night or pushing you to get out of your comfort zone by buying you chain-mail lingerie, Beverlee is the one you want by your side throughout life’s ups and downs. She has a lot of sass, questionable morals, and knows more than one way to revenge-poison an ex. That kind of loyalty is hard to find.


Before the release, you are going to want to pre order your copy! Not only will you get it at the lowest price of 99 cents, but you will also get a fun addition that the authors put together for our readers; a recipe book of great summer salads.

Included with the preorder of the anthology!

We are also doing something extra special for our potential readers; we’ve put together an exciting package with over 30 prizes to win. Ereaders, gift cards, signed copies of books, ebooks, audio books, the list goes on. And you can check out the list AND sign up to win the Mysteries, Midsummer Sun & Murder anthology prize pack by clicking on the box below.

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Meet Karen Kalbacher

Karen and I started working together on my very first book, 9 years ago, and it has been a joy to work with her from day one. I found Karen on Fiverr.com under the name of fuzzym and fell in love with her colorful, eye catching covers. It didn’t take long for the two of us to get a feeling of how we work and we soon had the first cover ready for the Citrus Beach Series. Karen listened to what I wanted to accomplish, gently steered me in the right direction when I was total wrong and before long we had more covers ready to show off my mysteries. Now, when I need a new cover, I simple give her a few guides and let her work her magic. And every time, I never have a moment of hesitation or worry if the cover is going to work.

Be sure to visit Karen’s Fiverr account to see her work and rates at  https://www.fiverr.com/fuzzym and you can see more of her portfolio at https://1fuzzymonster.wordpress.com/portfolio/

Let’s find out a bit more about Karen and her work process...

What 3 questions do you ask a writer before you start their cover?

It’s different for each author because some come to me with a complete idea of what they want, and others come with a blank slate. I generally ask about the size first because that informs the shape of the images I am creating. I would also ask if they had a style they love. It’s smart to come to me with a few covers that caught your eye. That helps me get an idea of your aesthetic. The third thing I ask about is the genre. Mystery has a different look from Kidlit or ChickLit. I will match that style, so audiences recognize the genre from the cover.

I see you also write children’s books. How did you get started?

I like the whimsy of books for children. The themes are wholesome and fun. They lend themselves to more fantastical settings and the characters can be animals which I love. I write a little bit of everything, but children’s books are where you get to have fun.

What is your favorite genre to create covers for?

Cozy Mystery. The covers always tell a story. I like to add a zillion little details to the covers and they are a creative collaboration with the author. The colors tend to be brighter than a mystery novel and the art is slightly more sophisticated than the kidlit covers. They have a nice balance to them.

What trends do you see with covers, especially in the Cozy Mystery Genre?

There are a few trends. The covers either have a domestic scene like a bakery or a boutique with a clue to the murder on the cover, or an elegant landscape or your main character off to one side with a scene from the book playing out behind them. I’m not going to bore you with talk about fonts, but they tend to have the author’s name centered on the bottom. The Titles vary but as a rule tend to use a brush stroke style with a sans serif underneath it. White is popular for titles and a heavy drop shadow doesn’t hurt. Cats or pets on the cover almost as if the pet were the protagonist is hot right now.

What, in your opinion, are the essential elements of a good cover?

Clean, legible fonts are the backbone of any cover. The cover picture elements should overlap to create depth. If everything has a space around it, the image appears flat. Composition for me normally follows the idea of the golden triangle. That’s a fancy way of saying I move things around until it feels right. It should also follow the rules of the genre it is in. Mystery novels do not look like romance covers for a reason and that reason is marketing.

 Describe your working space

I live in a one-bedroom, so my living room is my office. I have two workspaces. There’s an HP-all-in-one on a corner desk when I am feeling professional but for the most part I sit on my sofa, put my laptop on a pillow with a picture of a cheetah on it and work while I listen to podcasts. Sitting crisscross applesauce is the key to good art.

On a typical day, how much time do you spend working on a cover?

When I begin work on a cover, it goes in stages. So, the first day it maybe an hour or two for some concept sketches. I will draw out three to four thumbnails for new clients. Once the client had a layout they like, I can spend 3-6 hours on a cover backdrop. I will check in periodically with the client to make sure we are on the same page. Each project is its own beast but covers can take anywhere from 3 hours to 18 hours depending on construction, complexity of the image, and changes. I would say on average about 6 hours.

I hope this gave you some insight about cover designs. I can’t wait to see what Karen (fuzzym) comes up next for me!

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Lynn Morrison

Lynn writes both nonfiction (How to Be Published and How to Market Your Book) and fiction. Her series include Oxford Key Mysteries, Cleo’s Midlife Series, Stakes & Spells Mysteries. She also writes  The Nomad Mom Diary. Lynn follows on simple question in her quest to create her delightful cozy mysteries; What IF… then she lets her imagination take her and her readers on some amazing adventures. Find out more about Lynn by visiting her website or following her on Facebook.

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A dead chef, a ruined gala, and the ghosts didn’t see a thing!
Natalie’s newfound magical abilities might be the only thing that can save her dream job at Oxford from turning into a nightmare. But only if she figures out who murdered St Margaret’s famed chef in time to save the autumn gala.

Now, lets find out what Lynn has to say about her Love-Kissed Cozy!

Which is more important to your book, the mystery or the love story?
The mystery always sits front and center in my stories. I start by asking myself who’s dead, who might have done it, and how will my sleuth solve the mystery. Once I’ve got the mystery in place, I turn to a secondary focus on character development. Romance is central to helping my sleuth change and grow. The love interest can bring out the best and the worst in my sleuth, and can act as a foil when she gets carried away. I also like to leverage the romance to provide some light-hearted comic relief.

What type of love story plays out in your book—friends to love, enemy to love, instant love, or something else?
I wanted a romance which would slowly build over the series. In Murder at St Margaret (book 1 in the series), I played up the enemies to friends trope. Natalie (my sleuth) and Edward (her love interest) couldn’t be more different if they tried. They get off on the wrong foot and every subsequent interaction only seems to make it worse. And yet, they can’t stop turning to each other – there is a clear flame of interest, even if they haven’t realized it. The first four books in my series span a year in time, which gave me plenty of room to let the relationship grow at a pace which feels very natural. Watching the pair go from adversaries to grudging respect to admiration and finally love makes for a lovely arc over the course of the series.

Does the love element cause problems for your protagonist?
Absolutely! My sleuth Natalie discovers she has a magical connection to Oxford – one which is kept a secret for obvious reasons. With ghosts and supernatural creatures forming a key part of her sleuthing team, she is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to explaining how she uncovers some of her clues. The love aspect adds another level of complexity. She wants Edward, her love interest, to respect and admire her… and telling him that a ghost told her isn’t going to help!
Edward encounters problems as well. He knows Natalie is hiding something from him, but what is it? He has to battle his own inner doubts. The pair have to take that leap of faith in deciding whether to proceed with a relationship or not, before the truth can be shared. That they do is testament to the power of love.

What comes first, the plot or characters?
Character first, always! I start with my main character and a setting, and then build the rest of the world around them. In this case, I started with Natalie, mulling over her identity, history, and interests until I had a clear picture of her in my mind. The setting was key – why was she coming to Oxford, what made this particular job so special to her, and what would being in Oxford allow her to do/think/feel. When I could see a natural progression for her character, I began plotting the books.

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Although my book is set in the modern day, it has turned out to be equally popular with fans of historical mysteries. This is no accident! For each book in the series, I researched the real history of the college where the book is set, and loosely based my magical Eternals on people from the college archives.
This blend of historical facts and magical fiction fits perfectly within my setting of Oxford University. Oxford is a magical place, where historic halls sit side-by-side with modern shops and restaurants. When you walk through the streets and alleyways, it feels entirely possible that you could meet a ghost or a cheeky wyvern around the next corner. When I set out to write my books, I made sure I wove strands of past and present into the stories, so readers could feel what it is really like to live in Oxford.

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
Although I’ve lived in Oxford, England for nearly a decade, and in Europe for almost 14 years, I am American. Oddly enough, I grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, and somehow ended up living in Oxford, England. I have been the fish out of water many times in my life. Those experiences proved to be very useful when writing cozy mysteries. While I’ve never stumbled across a dead body, I do know what it is like to walk into a strange place where everything seems topsy turvy.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Fiona Tarr

Fiona Tarr

Fiona writes Historical Fantasy and the Mystery Suspense series, Foxy Mysteries. She lives in Australia with her husband, not far from her adult sons. Fiona is a people watcher and loves to read into the body language she sees from those around her. You can follow her on Facebook, Amazon and her website.

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A high-class escort turns amateur detective to catch her friend’s killer…
Liz wants in on the investigation, but Detective Jack Cunningham doesn’t need a novice messing up his case. Liz ignores his warnings and digs too deep, uncovering corruption and political turmoil far more powerful and dangerous than her friend’s killer.

Let’s find out more about Fiona Tarr…

Which is more important to your book, the mystery or the love story? That’s a really hard question to answer. I think having a well-crafted, not too predictable mystery/crime to solve is very important or I wouldn’t be writing mystery fiction, but all good stories need a little romance slowly burning under the surface to make them feel relatable.

What type of love story plays out in your book—friends to love, enemy to love, instant love, or something else?
This book, and the entire series is a slow burn from enemies to friends, and eventually friends to lovers. The main character and her love interest are on the same side of the investigation but it takes a little while for them to work together and it isn’t always harmonious.

Does the love element cause problems for your protagonist?
Absolutely. Liz is a high-class escort, who has made her way in the world the hard way. She’s learnt to close her emotions off to love and the fact that Detective Jack Cunningham makes her even consider that she might have a chance at love, is both exciting and frustrating at the same time.

When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc.) scene, how do you get in the mood?
The mood for a sexy scene comes as I start writing. If I can’t invoke that emotion in myself as I write, I’ll never get my readers to feel it. Scenes usually play in my mind like a movie as I write. I’m a very visual person, so my imagination is ignited as the scene unfolds in my head.

What comes first, the plot or characters?
Characters always drive my stories. I outline a basic plot but always let my characters drive the action and drama. It feels more authentic to me that way.

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
When I’m not writing, I’m usually kitesurfing. Kitesurfing is where you fly a large, inflatable kite in the air, to generate power to help you glide along the water on a board. I ride a variety of boards when doing this, but my favorite is a surf board.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet Hillary Avis!

Hillary writes cozy mysteries about smart, persistent women looking for the truth. She lives in Oregon with her family and many pets. She loves to bake, make pottery, and drink coffee.

Sleigh Bells Wing                                                       by Hillary Avis
The Chapman clan’s preparing for a cozy Christmas, their last one at the old family farm before they finally put it on the market. But Ruth’s holiday cheer is history when she finds the potential buyer has been killed in cold blood. Will the New Year bring new hope to Honeytree—or a new victim?

What quirky Christmas tradition does your character do every year?

Ruth and her family have a yearly tradition of stringing popcorn garlands to decorate their Christmas tree. After the holiday, they hang the garlands in the apple orchard to feed the birds.

Speaking as your character, what is your (their) favourite thing about Christmas?

Ruth: “I love the excuse to round up my relatives for a ham-stravaganza of a potluck dinner. Nobody has to do too much work, and everybody gets to have too much fun.”

If you had to describe your character in three words, what would those three words be?

Bossy, big-hearted, and brave.

Your story is set in a small rural town. Why did you choose that as the setting for your book?

I was born in a tiny town where everyone knew everyone, and you could walk from one side of town to the other in about fifteen minutes. It was a great place to grow up, and I wanted to capture that sense of close-knit community in my cozy mystery series. Like my real hometown, the fictional town of Honeytree, Oregon, is a place where there’s always someone to loan you the right tool for the job, give you a ride home, or sleuth out who’s been stealing apples off your tree.

How does this story connect with your other books or series?

Sleigh Bells Wing is a prequel to my Clucks & Clues Cozy Mystery series. This story’s a peek at life in Honeytree before the main sleuth moves to town to start her chicken farm. It features several characters who make regular appearances in the rest of the books!

Meet Victoria Hamilton

Victoria Hamilton

I’m so pleased to introduce another Victoria! (When I was in elementry school there were 6 of us in my class!)

Victoria Hamilton writes traditional cozy mysteries and historical mysteries. You can find her books in most outlets and you can find Cast Iron Alibi on Amazon, Amazon Canada and Barnes & Noble.

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
I love the beach! I have been a camper my whole life and spent my childhood at campgrounds along the Canadian side of Lake Huron.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
A tote bag? Just the usual stuff inside, I suppose: sunscreen, comb, and of course a book! I love swimming and sand castle building, but once I’ve had my fill then a beach day is the perfect time to read a good book.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
The Cast! Cast Iron Alibi (Vintage Kitchen Mystery #9)
celebrates a girl’s week gone horribly wrong… you know, when you get together with people you’ve known for years, but something is off? That’s what happens to Jaymie Leighton Müller when she spends a couple of weeks with her college friends at her trailer and cottage on an island in the middle of the St. Clair River, Michigan. It’s a great beach read for the setting (the gals spend a day in Grand Bend, Ontario, a party town on Lake Huron and enjoy a river boat cruise), but the book also explores how life changes our party friends from college… and of course there’s a murder!  

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What does writing success mean to you?
Success means I can afford to continue writing… that is the best, being able to support myself with my books. Thank you, readers; I appreciate it so much.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written many many books. I haven’t counted, but I’m thinking it’s more than forty now. With so many, there is not one clear favorite, but I have to say, a favorite is Vintage Kitchen Mystery #6, Leave It to Cleaver, in which Jaymie (the main character) gets married, but before that happens solves a mystery that involves her older sister Becca back when she was a teen, in the 80s! The flashbacks and present day mixture was fun to write, and the book had a very satisfying ending for Jaymie and her new husband, Jakob, and Jakob’s little girl, Jocie.

When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
I can see how that may be a problem for writers, but I haven’t suffered it yet. There are always new ideas, and I find that I’ll be working along on another series and something – a news article, or something on TV, or something I read – will start an idea in my head that leads to a plot for one of my other series. This happened recently. I’m getting toward the end of writing Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #10, A Calculated Whisk; it is consuming me right now. But still… I saw something about an author in the 1700’s who moved to Bath, England and started a school; before I knew it I had an idea budding for the next Lady Anne Addison Historical Mystery. The point is, writers need to pay attention when those ideas occur and write something down!

Can you give us some insight into what makes your main character tick?
Jaymie Leighton Müller is more complicated than people around her imagine; she appears to be a mild-mannered sweet woman, who loves to cook and cares about local history. But she also has a strong streak of independence, learns her lessons well when she is hurt, and feels strongly about social issues, enough to say something even to those she loves. That – speaking her mind – is hard to do when it is to an elder she respects, but she still finds a way to make her feelings known.

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?
It can never be, but she happens to be my favorite mystery author, the late, great Sue Grafton. In a way she has been my mentor, because I feel I learned so much just by reading and rereading her Kinsey Millhone series.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
All I ever wanted to be was a writer; I’ve been more fortunate than most in being able to do it.

How do you select the names of your characters?
There are certain rules most writers follow when writing novels: don’t have more than one character with the same first letter in their name… it is confusing to the readers (I’ve broken that many times, sometimes to my dismay!); don’t have too many characters; don’t give someone a last name that is also a first name.

I broke that last rule, and to my chagrin it caused me problems. One of my characters in my Merry Muffin Mystery Series is named Dewayne Lester, and from the beginning I accidentally called him Lester on occasion. Well, in the latest Merry Muffin book, Double or Muffin, I ended up calling him Lester throughout and neither I nor my editor noticed! It took an eagle-eyed reader to notice and write to me, and I appreciate it. My editor is correcting it. Other than that, I try to not make names too difficult to pronounce or read; I don’t want to put stumbling blocks in the way of smooth reading. Also… the name has to fit the person.

I would be interested in hearing from readers; are there names you wish a writer would use?

Pre-Order, Sept. 21 release!

Victoria’s books are a delight, and I’m sure you will enjoy them. Summer is winding down, so grab a copy and catch up!

I had a novella release! Novella #2 in the Tattletale Cafe Mysteries

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Meet Jane Kelly

Follow Jane Kelly on Facebook

Jane Kelly writes books about amature sleuths, filled with a touch of humor, both in cozy and traditional mysteries. Her books can currently be found on Amazon, in both Kindle and print.

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Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
Definitely a beach person. My favorite spot is on a low chair reading while the small waves wash back and forth over my feet. Favorite time of day is after the crowds go home.

Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
I long for the days when I put on a workshirt with two pockets and took a chapstick, a pack of tissues and my keys in one pocket and sunscreen in the other. I carried my book and towel. As I write this, I am thinking maybe I can get back to those days although I should add a beach chair (low for reading in the shallow water) with a cup holder and a pouch on the back. I don’t want to bring the entire house with me.

What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
The books are set in New Jersey Shore towns so that makes them appropriate reading for any beach but, beyond that, they are light and humorous. They are not quite cozy. I call them polite mysteries. No blood. No sex. No violence. At least on screen.

What inspired you to start writing?
Like a lot of writers, I started with a mystery because I wanted to kill someone. In my first Meg Daniels book, her boss gets killed. I also liked the idea of creating a series and getting to know a character. A friend of a friend unknowingly gave me encouragement. I had never met her when we were both at the same lunch. After a bit, she turned to me and asked, “Are you a writer?” When I said, “No,” she said, “You should be.” That comment was inspiring.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Be persistent. Take yourself seriously. Prepare. My first agent told me I had the best rejection letters he ever saw. At that point, I did not persist. I thought I’d had an interesting experience that was over. A mistake.  A major editor said he would read anything else I wrote. Did I write something to submit? No. A mistake. Did I attend conferences or take classes to learn more about the market and my craft? No. Another mistake. Persist.

How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I have about a half-dozen, half-written books that I would love to have time to get back to. I recently found two books that I had completed in the 1980s. I was thrilled to discover I did not know “who dun it.” I started updating a mystery where the heroine gets to live a fantasy of mine: being one of the guests assembled in a luxurious drawing room in the middle of a stormy night for the unveiling of a murderer. I got halfway through the revisions when higher priorities called. I hope to go back soon.

How do you select the names of your characters?
I go all out selecting character names. I always look back to the people who named them. Usually, a character’s parents are not in the book, but the name they picked says a lot about them and their expectations for their child. If the character has acquired a nickname that says more about what they actually became. Or, if they named themselves what they want to become. Of course, I always check the Social Security database. One of my favorite ways I ever identified the age of a historical character depended on data from Social Security. “Most women named Edna were at least twenty years ahead of me in life. As were the Mildreds, the Ethels and the Mabels. The Kathys, Susies and Pattys were the ones who on most days poured into the driveway behind my house to play. There were no Madisons, Kaylies, or even Kendras yet. I hailed from the Helen, Betty and Margaret generation although my parents had chosen to give me the rather plain, or as they called it classic, name of Katherine.”

Do you base your characters real people?
Never. A character may be inspired by someone but each character develops into their own person that, in the end, has very little in common with the original individual. I started writing mysteries because I wanted to kill my boss. In the end, I killed a boss, a far more sinister man than my boss ever was. I used to keep a list of quirks I observed thinking I would assign them to characters. I never did. The characters developed their own quirks. They really do take over.

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I love the new term Jane has used for her books~polite mysteries! Besure to check out her Pinterest Boards as well as her books!

A Word about Brozy Mysteries

Before I continue with the next round of author interviews, I’d like to introduce you to a new genre of cozy mystery. I’m really excited about this new group of books and authors and think you will too. 

618wJ54PwWL._US230_Meet Kent Halloway…

Kent Holloway started a Facebook group to get the word out about Brozy Mysteries, and that is how I found him and the genre. You’d be surprised at the authors who are getting on board with this movement.  So, without further ado, here is Kent’s introduction to the Brozy Mystery Movement.

Brozies! Brozies! Brozies! Why Won’t This Guy Shut Up About Brozies?

By J. Kent Holloway

Short answer to the blog post title: Probably not. At least for quite a while anyway. In fact, you’re probably going to see me talking more and more on the topic of brozy mystery. The beautiful thing is, you’re probably going to start seeing a lot more people talking about it in the blogosphere as well. The reason? It’s catching on. It’s becoming a thing. It’s building momentum. More and more authors are jumping on board. And it’s beautiful.

On a personal level, I’m not likely to stop talking about brozies for another reason. You see, after nearly ten years of writing across all spectrums of genres (thrillers, pulp, adventure, horror, and fantasy), I finally found my niche. The problem was, my niche didn’t have a clearly defined genre. It was mystery, sure. It was clean. No foul language. No sex (barely any romance at all). I was too clean for straight up mysteries. But my books were too masculine-centric to find a comfortable place among the frills and cupcakes of the cozy genre too (heck, when I mentioned wanting to write cozy mysteries, my own mother had the audacity to ask, “Aren’t they a little girly for you?” She was actually embarrassed by the prospect, and rightly so, I think. I don’t do cats or tea parties. I don’t do book clubs and baking. I don’t do florists or caterers.

​I do mystery and adventure. I do mystery and jungles. I do mystery and voodoo. I do mystery and lost treasures. I do…well, you get the point.

So, I ventured forth to build a genre that best suited my own particular brand of cozy mystery…the brozy mystery. It was a female fan and reader who came up with the name, by the way. And, as you’d expect, it isn’t without its controversies. I’ve been labeled a misogynist and sexist for even suggesting such a thing. The reason is easy to understand. The word ‘bro’ carries with it a certain derogatory connotation by many. To these people, it harbors visions of frat guys and douchebags who womanize and cheat and lie to get what they want. To me, the word ‘bro’ carries with it another ideal. That of ‘brotherhood’. Brotherhood conjures up concepts such as bravery, loyalty, being steadfast. I think of rugged exceptionalism (another bad word to some in this day and age). Of heroic deeds. It conjures images of knights in shining armor, Buck Rogers, and Indiana Jones. Good guys (whether male or female) wearing white hats and villains wearing black.

Brozies to me appeal to interests that are traditionally more masculine in nature. Spies, race car drivers, stunt men, adventurers, archaeologists, space cadets. Guys are more interested in Star Wars than they are the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. They’re more interested in football than in crafts. They want stories that excite and pump up the adrenaline. I know a lot of women who want this too, by the way. I can’t tell you the number of messages I’ve received recently from female readers who’ve thanked me for spearing-heading this. Women who just can’t take another cupcake recipe in the back of a mystery (their words, not mine).

Sexist or not, men are less inclined to read books that appear catered to the female reader (I know there are some exceptions because I’m one of them). It’s also true that die-hard readers of cozies (in the form they are now in) aren’t open to more masculine interests (i.e. a futuristic space cozy).

I know this because I’ve recently come across a male writer, Richard Dee, who created a fantastic cozy mystery series called the Andorra Pett series which is set on Saturn. All sorts of fun sci-fi tropes, many which are retro. It originally featured a female sleuth with cute traditionally cozy covers, but yet, according to the author, it’s been difficult to find traction. (He’s recently revamped the covers for a more brozy vibe.) Traditional cozy readers are slow to accept new concepts, especially those that are set in the future in space. So Richard was most pleased to find out little group of Brozy enthusiasts who are looking to change the literary (or at least, cozy) world.

There are other mystery authors out there who are a little more grounded in our world. Recently, I’ve discovered Colin Conway and his Brody Steele series. I’m currently reading book one, Cozy Up to Death, and it’s so much fun. The book (series) takes the cozy mystery and turns it up on its ears. The protagonist is an ex-biker enforcer. But he’s currently in witness protection. And he’s forced to own and run a bookstore (check off one cozy trope). The bookstore has a cat (check another cozy trope), and of course, our hero is not a cat person. But a biker-sleuth? Unheard of! And awesome! And funny. And clean as a whistle (although I’ve never known why whistles are supposed to be clean).

And if you subscribe to my newsletter, you already read my interview with John Gaspard and learned about his fantastic Eli Marks Mysteries. In them, Eli Marks, a typical guy with all the problems guys have, is a professional stage magician. He’s not the best. He’s not the worst. But he makes a good living at it, as well as the magic shop he and his uncle run. But of course, Eli stumbles on bodies quite frequently and uses his skills to help solve murders and other crimes. There’s not a crotchet stick or recipe anywhere to be found. But guys love magic. So it’s awesome, and I consider it a brozy. I’m just not sure it appeals to the classic cozy reader.

That’s why this brozy genre is so important. So people can find these books easier. The dream is to have you, the reader, simply type ‘brozy mystery’ into Amazon’s database and be presented with all the amazing mysteries that guys (and ladies who like more manly tropes in their books) will love all in the one place. By the way, try it. Try searching for ‘brozy mysteries’ in Amazon. Once you bypass Amazon’s spellcheck procedure trying to switch things to ‘cozy’, you’ll already be presented with several books whose authors believe to be perfect for the brozy mystery genre.

This is an exciting time to be a writer! An exciting time to be a fan of clean mysteries with more manly appeals. I hope you’ll embrace the dream, and join us on this journey! Oh, by the way, if you’re interested in learning more, go to Facebook and join our Brozy Mysteries R Us group. We’d love to have you!

whats a brozy